In this new article of our supplements guide we will discuss a very current and relevant topic: the use of probiotics. These supplements can be found throughout supermarkets, pharmacies, and all natural health stores. Herbalists and other nutrition experts praise probiotics for their power in treating and correcting a number of intestinal disorders, such as abdominal bloating or complications due to the imbalance of microflora.

Probiotics promise to restore the balance of the microbial “flora” in people who are under copious amounts of stress, follow inadequate diets, or abuse antibiotics. A healthy intestinal flora not only protects the digestive system from disease, it also keeps the metabolic processes of the body working smoothly and efficiently. Nonetheless, supplementing these bacteria is a delicate matter and requires some knowledge in order to do it right. Read on to learn all about these good bacteria.

Contents

Key Facts

  • Probiotics are supplements that contain living microorganisms capable of enhancing a multitude of physiological processes in our body.
  • There are a number of different species of bacterial strains, some more effective than others at treating specific symptoms and pathologies.
  • Probiotic intake is considered safe for most people, however it can trigger infections in those with compromised immune systems. It’s always best to exercise caution, do your research and consult your family doctor if you are not sure of the effects a new supplement could have on your body.

Ranking: The best probiotic supplements on the Canadian market

Just like with any other product, there are many “probiotics” sold on the market with little or no actual functionality. Choosing safe and high quality bacterial strains is essential if you want to reap the benefits of their use. Check out the probiotic products that made it to our ranking to choose from quality products – with their results verified by hundreds of demanding consumers.

No. 1: Health Labs Rx, Advanced Probiotics Extra Strength (capsules)

The Advanced Probiotics Extra Strength formula is an advanced solution made up of 4 different potent strains of lactobacillus and 3 different strains of bifidobacteria, all in the form of an easily ingested capsule. The 11.5 billion organisms within each capsule work to relieve digestive tract issues ranging from nausea, to acid reflux, to IBS.

By restoring the microflora, this supplement by Health Labs Rx maintains a healthy digestive balance and promotes a strong immune system. This supplement can be taken 2 times a day and is safe to take alongside any other vitamins you currently take. The manufacturer promises a 100% money back guarantee if you don’t find yourself fully satisfied with the results form this product.

No. 2: Align, Digestive Care Probiotic Supplement (capsules)

The supplements by Align are great for supporting overall gastrointestinal health, but are exceptionally good at combating and managing the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This supplement contains the patented, pure-strain probiotic Bifidobacterium, which specifically targets abdominal discomfort, gas and bloating.

This is a gluten free, soy free and vegetarian friendly supplement. The efficacy of this probiotic comes in its ability to repopulate and encourage the growth of the healthy bacteria that already exists in the gut. For optimal results, the manufacturer recommends taking one capsule once per day. Please note that this supplement is best for children and adults ages 12 and up.

No. 3: BeLive, Probiotic Supplement – Sugar-Free Gummies (chewables)

BeLive has manufactured its probiotic supplement in a way that allows it to endure the highly acidic environment of the stomach, enabling it to reach the intestinal tract intact and thus being able to provide its full healing potential. This chewable gummy contains one of the most effective bacteria, Bacillus Coagulans.

Bacillus Coagulans not only improves overall digestive function, it also gives the immune system a boost and promotes healthy weight loss. This probiotic is heat resistant due to its convenient gummy form, this means it doesn’t require refrigeration. The gummy is sugar-free, which is great for those sensitive to changes in blood glucose. It is FDA approved with 100% satisfaction guaranteed by the manufacturer.

No. 4: Webber Naturals, Probiotic 30 Billion – Probiotic Strains (vegetarian capsules)

This probiotic product form the Canadian manufacturer contains 8 bacterial strains, including Lactobacillus rhamnosus. With 30 billion microorganisms per strain in every capsule, a daily dose will ensure rapid and effective colonization of these beneficial bacteria within the intestinal tract. This not only produces a healthier gut flora, it supports healthy immunity; helping to prevent digestive problems while traveling.

Each non-medicinal ingredient within Webber Naturals probiotics are all natural and vegetarian friendly. They guarantee a minimum of 75 billion active cells per capsule at the date of manufacture, and 30 billion active cells per capsule by the expiration date. Because this probiotic comes in capsule form, it can be administered very easily while on the go.

No. 5: Renew Life, Ultimate Flora Probiotic (vegetable capsules)

This company offers probiotic capsules in 3 different concentrations, making it a versatile supplement and for a wide range of people. Each tablet contains either 15, 30 or 50 billion bacterial cultures that support the metabolic processes in the digestive tract. Because of this, the probiotics within this supplement increase energy, boost the immune system and improve the overall health of the body.

All Renew Life Canada products go through a rigorous testing program to ensure the ethical production of its supplements. Ultimate Flora includes a specific strain that is resistant to the acid and bile in the stomach and adheres to the intestinal mucosa, giving it a better opportunity to modulate the body’s immune response. It doesn’t require refrigeration, making it perfect for travel and on-the-go users.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about probiotics

The terms “bacteria” and “microorganisms” often lead us to immediately think of disease and infections. However, these terms are of neither negative nor positive connotation. They are used simply to name microbes present in our bodies and the world. In this spefic article however, we are referring to those presnet within our gut which, when in balance, are part of the normal “flora” of all healthy human beings.

If our normal microbiota (“flora”) dies and becomes imbalanced, we can restore it by using probiotic supplements.

Woman at the fridge

Where should you store your probiotics? Preferably in the fridge, just like yogurt and other dairy products.
(Source: Om: 25864227/123rf.com)

What is a probiotic exactly?

A probiotic is a type of supplement that contains living microorganisms (bacteria or yeasts) and it has the ability to prompt beneficial effects in our organisms. The most popular bacteria used in probiotic supplements are those belonging to the genus (bacterial class) Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

It’s common to mistake and confuse probiotic supplements with prebiotic supplements. Although they are seemingly similar, they are very much the opposite. Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are non-living compounds that help form suitable environments for the growth of a healthy microbiote to occur. They are composed of carbohydrates that provide energy for the normal “flora” to thrive.

What criteria must a supplement meet in order for it to be considered probiotic?

It’s not possible for the body to synthesize probiotics from the bacteria already present in the body. In order to be synthesized, these microorganisms must be obtained from either our diet or supplemented in an isolated form. However, the indiscriminate use of microbial species often brings no benefit and in worst cases, it may actually pose a threat to our gut health.

A probiotic must meet the following criteria before it can be considered such:

  • Backed by scientific evidence: Because there are so many falsely advertised “natural” remedies – which are not regulated by any third party organization – it is important that the effectiveness of the probiotic you’re going to use has been validated by scientific studies. This not only prevents you from wasting your money, it assures you that you won’t be ingesting anything potentially disruptive to the optimum performance of your body. Keep in mind, no one is built the same and every organism functions slightly differently.
  • Safety: Although we caution against purchasing probiotics without conducting proper research, these microorganisms never become aggressive to the point of causing infections in a perfectly healthy person.
  • Vitality: Aside from concentrating and packaging the product into the ingestion medium of choice, manufacturers must ensure the probiotic bacteria or yeasts remain alive in order to carry out their intended functions. Which means the packaging method for these probiotics is a crucial factor to their effectiveness.
  • Survival: At least half of the microorganisms within the probiotic supplement must survive the processes of ingestion and digestion in order to create positive changes within the microflora.
  • Stability: The microscopic organisms contained within probiotics must continue to thrive within the supplement once packed, remaining active until the expiration date of the product has been exceeded. This means it is important to create a favourable environment for the bacteria within the supplement.
  • Strains: Each bacterial species is further divided into different “strains” or subtypes (think of it as different members of the same family). It’s important to choose an active strain that acts on the particular symptoms you wish to treat.
  • Labeling: All the information of the probiotic should be visible and clearly labeled. Make sure the information comes from a reliable source and it’s easy to read and understand.

The use of probiotics has become increasingly popular, with several pharmaceutical laboratories developing strains that promise wonderful beneficial effects. Unfortunately, a lot of these supplements don’t always meet the quality standards to provide the kind of results they claim to have. Make sure you carefully research whatever product and manufacturer you chose before making your final decision.

Kefir on wooden background

Kefir is a food high in probiotic.
(Source: Zidar: 34037457/123rf.com)

What are the benefits of supplementing with probiotics?

Probiotics offer a wide variety of benefits, which depend highly on the type of strain used in the supplement you have chosen. Once the microorganisms colonize the area of interest (it can be the mouth, stomach, intestine and even the female reproductive system) they begin to have positive effects in certain physiological processes, such as:

  • Lighter and faster digestion
  • Decrease in flatulence and inflamation
  • Improvement of intestinal transit
  • Reductions in abdominal bloating/puffing
  • Balance in weight and blood cholesterol levels
  • Lower incidence of infections (when consumed by healthy individuals)
  • Lower incidence of allergic reactions
  • General improvement in response during fight or flight stress situations
  • Increased levels of folic acid, cyanocobalamin and vitamin K in the body
  • Increased fertility (in women)
  • Decrease in pain associated with menstruation (in women)

If we use a probiotic supplement that contains a blend of various bacteria, the benefits we’ll experience in our bodies will be multiplied.

If we want to solve specific problems like weight loss or improved immunity, it is advisable to choose a probiotic with strains that have been shown to address those specific issues. However if you’re looking to improve the overall wellbeing and health of your gut, combinations of strains will prove to be extremely worthwhile.

Jesus SanchisDietitian-Nutritionist

“Taking probiotics – rather, improving the integrity of the epithelium and intestinal ecosystem – can help reverse the immune and metabolic alterations that are associated with obesity.”

What kinds of probiotics are there?

There are hundreds upon hundreds of different probiotics, this number is then multiplied by the all the different possible combinations and mixes of each of the different strains. Knowing what symptoms you wish to treat and the possible contraindications of supplementing, will help you choose a product that offers you the most benefits. Consult the table below to choose the best probiotic to suit your needs:

Symptom Recommended probiotic (bacterium and strain)
Acute diarrhea (associated with gastroenteritis) Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938, Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 55730, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Lactobacillus casei DN-114 001, Saccharomyces cerevisiae boulardii CNCM I-7454 and Lactobacillus gasseri CP2305.
Diarrhea (from the use of medication) Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Saccharomyces cerevisiae boulardii CNCM I-745.
“Stomach acidity” (Helicobacter pylori infection) Lactobacillus johnsonii LA1 and Lactobacillus gasseri OLL2716.
Constipation Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938, Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 55730, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Propionibacterium freudenreichii CIRM-BIA 129 and Lactobacillus gasseri CP2305.
Irritable bowel syndrome Lactobacillus acidophilus AD031, Lactobacillus acidophilus SDC 2012,2013, Lactobacillus casei DG, Lactobacillus plantarum 299v and Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001.
Common cold and viral infections Lactobacillus casei Shirota y Streptococcus salivarius K12.
Caveties and gum problems Streptococcus salivarius M18.
Overweight and high cholesterol Lactobacillus gasseri BNR17, Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 and Bifidobacterium animalis GCL2505.
Symptoms of depression Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001.
Symptoms of anxiety Lactobacillus gasseri CP2305, Lactobacillus rhamnosus NCC4007 and Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001.

This table is just a tiny peek into the exciting possibilities in the world of probiotics. If you want to treat very specific ailments (menstrual disturbances, diverticulitis or Crohn’s disease), you should consult a health professional who can help you choose the right supplement for you.

How should I take my probiotic supplement?

Probiotics contain living microorganisms, therefore, we must follow a series of specific guidelines to ensure the vitality and survival of these cells. Otherwise, we will be ingesting hundreds of dead or weakened bacteria – completely unable to provide any of it’s intended benefits.

  • When? Probiotics can be taken at any time. If you use a probiotic to improve digestion however, we suggest taking it approximately half an hour before meals.
  • How? These supplements should be taken accompanied by water or food. However, always avoid taking them with acidic foods or very hot liquids. Heat and acid can destroy the microorganisms biotia.
  • How much should I take? Each probiotic has its own recommended dose, which is explained in detail on it’s llabel. Nonetheless, the advised maximum daily dose for people using probiotics for the first time is of 15 billion Colony Forming Units (CFU).

Medication can be an extra challenge when it comes to probiotic supplementation. If you take antibiotics, keep in mind that this bactericidal substance is harmful to probiotic microorganisms. We advise you to allow a minimum of two hours between the taking your antibiotic and your probiotic.

Dr. Whitney BoweDermatologist

“Start with a probiotic containing 10 to 15 billion CFUs and work your way up. Keep in mind you may experience some swelling when your intestine is colonized for the first time.”

How should I store probiotic supplements?

How can we extend the life of these precious micro-organisms you may ask? Experts advise storing your probiotics at low temperatures. The cold in a fridge (never the freezer) will slow down the metabolism of bacteria and thus, lengthen their lifespan. Heat and exposure to sunlight will have an opposite and detrimental effect.

Moreover, it’s also very important to keep the expiry date in mind. While you can allow yourself to be more “permissive” with the expiration date of inert elements (such as minerals or vitamins), probiotics will only be effective as long as they maintain their vitality, which will disappear shortly after the expiration date.

Closed container

Your probiotic supplement must be perfectly packaged and with an unbroken seal.
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What side effects do probiotics have?

As a result from the rapid growth of microbiota that occurs when taking probiotics for the first time; you may notice some of these common side effects: abdominal bloating, flatulence, and a feeling of heaviness in the stomach. These symptoms will lessen and eventually completely disappear with continued use.

In rare cases, probiotics have the ability to cause very serious infections. This complication only occurs in those with an underdeveloped or compromised immune systems (which can be due to chronic medical conditions). If you are generally a healthy person, the use of probiotics is unlikely to cause any complications.

Andreu PradosPharmacist and dietitian-nutritionist

“Before using a probiotic product, make sure it’s backed and supported by well-designed clinical trials. It is always advisable to weigh the individual risks and benefits of using it, even after obtaining the approval of your family doctor and/or pharmacist.”

What contraindications may the use of probiotics have?

There are several studies that have evaluated the safety of probiotics for years. Although the results indicate that these supplements are safe for human consumption even in high doses, special caution and medical supervision is recommended for people belonging to one of these groups:

  • Immunodeficiencies: In case the body is under extreme immunosuppression as a result from an HIV infection or having had a transplant or suffered genetic alterations; the use of probiotics is strongly discouraged. In these cases, the bacterial microorganisms could trigger sepsis (a serious infection that reaches the bloodstream and spreads throughout the entirety body).
  • Babies: There are probiotics specially designed to relieve diarrhea in infants. However, isolated cases of sepsis among critically ill babies have been described. For this reason, probiotic use in children should be closely monitored by a pediatrician.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women: Although there are probiotic formulas specifically designed to be used by pregnant women, it’s generally a good rule of thumb to consult a doctor or midwife before adding any supplements to your diet.
  • People who have a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR): Some studies show cases of endocarditis (severe infection affecting the heart) from the colonization of probiotic microorganisms on the artificial valve implant. \For this reason, the use of these products is strongly discouraged among those undergoing cardiac surgery.

Infections related to the use of probiotics are rare. However, when they do accur, its repercussions (sepsis, endocarditis and fungal invasion) can be very serious. In order avoid any of the harmful complications that can manifest from the use of probiotics, make sure to see your family doctor regularly and choose strains whose results have been verified and backed by experts.

Woman with allergy

After taking your probiotic, allergic reactions may appear, such as sudden itching and inflammation of the skin.
(Source: Popov: 39679362/123rf.com)

What is the price range for probiotic supplements?

Probiotics supplements are moderately priced. Most items cost between 15 and 20 dollars. The main difference in price will be linked to the number of capsules, pearls or tablets per package. Some laboratories are more generous and offer up to 180 tablets per product; this supply amount lasts for several months.

It will be necessary to take into account other factors that raise the price of probiotics. For example, the quality of packaging and the use of vegetarian capsules will increase the cost of the item. Similarly, manufacturers using exclusive strains, developed in their own laboratories, sell their probiotics at a higher price.

What is microbiota?

The microbiota of a particular system is comprised of bacteria and other microorganisms that inhabit various areas of the skin, intestine, and even the genital tract of healthy humans. Its presence prevents the colonization of pathogenic germs and provides a number of benefits such as smoother digestion and the synthesis of certain vitamins.

Wellness Probiotics

Probiotics are essential for our physical and mental well-being.
(Source: Gojda: 47838189/ 123rf.com)

Studies seem to confirm that the development of the microbiota begins within a few hours of life. During childbirth, the child comes into contact with the maternal “flora” and with other microorganisms present in the outside world. This bacteria will transfer into the newborn, giving rise to it’s unique, personal and protective microbiota.

This bacteria settles on the different surfaces and mucous membranes of the body that are in contact with the external environment. In this way, we speak of cutaneous, intestinal, vaginal, oral and even ocular microbiota. The intestinal “flora” affects the well-being of the whole organism and is particularly interesting from the point of view of supplementation.

Which microorganisms are part of the normal intestinal microbiotain of healthy humans?

The human intestinal microbiota is made up of billions of different bacteria. Individual genetics, diet and environmental factors shape the number and variability in species of microbes that inhabit each person’s intestinal tract. We have been able to distinguish between three main bacterial divisions, given their varying qualities and effects:

  • Firmicutes: Up to 70% of the microorganisms of the normal microbiota belong to this division. These include the bacteria Lactobacillus, the most well-known being Lactobacillus casei (L-casei immunitas).
  • Bacteroidetes: They make up 20% of the normal microbiota. The better known bacteria of this group are those belonging to the genus Bacteroides (Bacteroides fragilis, Bacteroides ovatus and Bacteroides dorei).
  • Actinobacteria: Although this species occurs in lower proportions (5%) compared to the rest, it contains the essential Bifidobacteria (“Active Bifidus”).

It has been shown that obese people, for example, have an abnormally high proportion of firmicutes. This has led experts to conclude that the ratios of these bacterial groups, and not just the number of total microbes, endows our intestinal “flora” with a certain capacity to regulate metabolism.

Fermented Probiotics

Fermented foods are high in probiotics.
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What functions does intestinal microbiota have?

The functions of the intestinal microbiota are not limited to the stomach and intestine areas. Recent studies have found that the effects of these probiotics extend to the entire body. So far, five different processes are known to depend on the health of intestinal microbiota:

  • Defense against harmful bacteria (pathogens): The presence of a balanced intestinal microbiota prevents and hinders the colonization of pathogenic bacteria capable of producing infections in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Immunity and inflammation regulation: Some bacterial species of the microbiota have been shown to possess the ability to modulate the body’s immune response, attenuating inflammatory responses and avoiding the surge of allergies and intolerances.
  • Metabolism and digestion: Humans are able to digest certain compounds in food, such as starches, thanks to bacteria in the intestinal flora. Many of these compounds would be inedible otherwise.The microbiota also assists in the synthesis of compounds indispensable for the proper functioning of the body, such as: biotin, folic acid and vitamin K.
  • Interaction with drugs and toxins: The microbiota is also capable of interacting with drugs and toxic substances, altering their function and sometimes totally deactivating them.
  • Neuromodulation (axis “microbiota-intestine-brain”): The intestine has a complex neuronal network that is in direct contact with the brain. The microbiota plays an important role in the maintenance of this relationship, regulating the production of chemical substances vital for the normal functioning of the nervous system.

A diverse microbiota is needed for all of these processes to take place. Each bacterial species has one or several different functions that will act in synch with the rest of the microbiota.

Below is a table that relates the main bacteria with their most relevant effects:

Bacteria Phylum or division Function
Bacteroides fragilis Bacteroidetes Defense against harmful bacteria.
Bacteroides melaninogenicus Bacteroidetes Defense against harmful bacteria.
Bacteroides oralis Bacteroidetes Defense against harmful bacteria, metabolism and digestion.
Bifidobacterium bifidum Actinobacteria Defense against harmful bacteria, regulation of immunity and inflammation, metabolism and digestion.
Lactobacillus Firmicutes Defence against harmful bacteria, metabolism, digestion and neuromodulation.
Prevotella Bacteroidetes Defense against harmful bacteria, metabolism and digestion.

What factors affect the composition of the intestinal microbiota?

There are a large number of factors that affect the composition and variability of the microbiota in each individual, giving each person an individualized intestinal “flora”. The following list summarizes the main characteristics capable of altering the number and proportions of intestinal bacteria:

  • Anatomy: The state of the digestive tract (e.g. alterations in the production of gastric acids or bile) will determine the type of bacteria that become part of the normal microbiota.
  • Genetics: A similar microbiote has been found among people in the same family, especially among twin siblings.
  • Age: Children have a less diverse microbiota. Throughout life and over time, new species slowly appear that become part of their normal intestinal flora.
  • Diet: Extreme diets (such as purely carnivorous or strict vegetarian diets) will cause the disappearance of some species commonly found in the microbiota of people who follow more well-rounded diets. The use of sweeteners will also negatively affect the state of the intestinal bacteria.
  • Medication: The excessive and irresponsible use of antibiotics will destroy much of the natural microbiota.
  • Toxins: Tobacco is capable of inducing negative changes in the diversity of a normal microbiota as well.
  • Stress, anxiety and depression: Emotional stress and other mental alterations are accompanied by changes in the microbiota. It is still under debate whether the alteration of the microbiota is an effect of emotional suffering, vice versa or a combination of the two.

The farther away the composition of a person’s microflora is from the “ideal” standards, the greater the likelihood of long-term metabolic complications. For example, an exaggerated increase in Bacteroides fragilis will cause this initially harmless microorganism to become pathogenic and cause infections such as appendicitis.

We must not forget the importance of diet in regards to our overall health and wellbeing. If an inadequate diet is followed with an abundance of fats, added sugars, and processed foods, the different populations of our microbiota will be affected negatively, causing major imbalances. This then leads to weaker organ systems and higher occurrence of disease.

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Did you know that although the term “intestinal flora” is very popular, it is not correct? Experts recommend using the term microbiota to refer to these microorganisms (which do not belong to the plant kingdom).

What consequences can the imbalance of the intestinal microbiota have on our health?

When the composition of the intestinal microbiota moves away from what is considered a healthy balance, we move towards a condition called intestinal dysbiosis. This alteration will lead to a long-term deterioration in health. The main complications of this imbalance will be the following:

  • Alterations in digestion: The digestion process of some foods, such as fibre, will be difficult. This will increase the occurrence of abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, constipation and flatulence.
  • Overweight and obesity: It has been shown that diets rich in sugar and fat cause a surge in levels of the Bacteroidetes phylum. These bacteria increase the absorption of fats, which contribute to weight gain, obesity, hypertension and elevation of cholesterol levels in the blood.
  • Infections of the digestive tract: Intestinal dysbiosis favours the growth of pathogenic or opportunistic bacteria (usually harmless microorganisms that take advantage of weak defences to become aggressive) which often cause gastroenteritis, diarrhea and even colitis.
  • Inflammation: The imbalance of the microbiota has been shown to create a constant state of inflammation. This brings unpleasant consequences such as flatulence and abdominal swelling. Moreover, it is also associated with more serious repercussions, such as an increased incidence of colon cancer.
  • Disorders in the nervous system: Dysbiosis produces an alteration in the microbiota-intestino-brain axis, leading to numerous diseases related to the nervous system: anxiety, depression and insomnia among others.

For years the importance of intestinal bacteria in human health has been underestimated and an unwise use of certain antibiotic treatments has ensued. For this reason we are seeing such high rates of dysbiosis, and with it, the emergence of our current most deadly diseases: obesity, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia and hypertension.

How can I contribute to the healthy development of my intestinal microbiota?

The intestinal microbiota coexists in our body in a delicate balance. According to experts, these bacteria move “between resilience and fragility. If we want to promote the proper development of our “flora” and prevent the proliferation of pathogens, we must pay attention to the following factors:

  • Balanced diet: According to experts, a diet low in fats and sugars will favour the development of a balanced microbiota. It can also be advantageous to follow an omnivorous diet. Strict vegans, vegetarians and carnivores should incorporate a Probiotic supplement to ensure their intestinal “flora” in good condition.
  • No sweetners: Many people add sweeteners to their diet (such as stevia or sucrose) to decrease their intake of free sugars. However, these products have been associated with the onset of intestinal dysbiosis. It is much healthier to get used to a diet without sugar or sweeteners.
  • Increase the consumption of fibre and fermented foods: Fibre favours the development of many healthy species of microbiota. Furthermore, fermented products (yogurt, kefir, miso and kimchi) also contain beneficial microorganisms that strengthen the microbiota once ingested.
  • Giving up alcohol, tobacco and other toxins: These toxic substances have been shown to alter and destroy the natural microbiota. Eliminating or reducing consumption of these substances will bring you enormous benefits that go beyond intestinal well-being.
  • Adopting a good routine of eating, resting and sports: Eating at the same times during the day also favor the healthy balance of the microbiota. Regular sleep and physical activity help maintain a healthy state of other organ systems (respiratory, cardiac, musculoskeletal), creating a favourable environment for the growth of intestinal “flora”.
  • Use drugs only under medical prescription: Antibiotics and – to a lesser extent – drugs such as anticonvulsants and antipsychotics, cause alterations in the balance of the microbiota. Always consult a healthcare professional before taking any medication.

If the above measures fail or if you know that your intestinal “flora” will be irreversibly destroyed (perhaps because of a necessity to take a very potent treatment of antibiotics), we advise you to consider introducing a probiotic supplement into your routine. Read on to learn more about the supplements that are capable of “resurrecting” your microbiote.

Purchase Criteria

Choosing the right probiotic can be difficult. Don’t worry: The information in the first part of our guide will give you the knowledge to decide which probiotic strain is right for you. Nonetheless, make sure to take into account the following criteria before committing to your choice:

  • Vegan or vegetarian nutrition
  • Intolerances and allergies
  • Number of microbial species
  • Packaging
  • Quantity of CFU
  • Value for your money

Vegan or vegetarian nutrition

Many probiotics contain a substrate (culture material) of animal origin. Milk or milk products are often used to culture and feed microbes. Remember to look for the vegan seal on the package of your supplement to make sure it’s made entirely from vegetable sources.

Another characteristic to take into account is the composition of the capsule. Tablets with a gelatine sheath are generally not suitable for vegetarians or vegans, as this material is synthesized from animal collagen. Fortunately, there are vegan capsules made from cellulose.

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Did you know that vegetable capsules are made from hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose, a modification of naturally occurring cellulose? This substance is used in the pharmaceutical, food and cosmetics industries.

Intolerances and allergies

Your probiotic supplement may have been manufactured in an facility that uses gluten, nuts, fish, or lactose. If you are intolerant to any of these substances, look for a supplement that specifies on its label the absence of these allergens. Make sure to see your family doctor right away if any unexpected symptoms appear after taking your supplement.

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Probiotics and prebiotics are essential to the health of your gut, your brain, and your entire body. ⁣ ⁣ Probiotics: the beneficial bacteria living in your gut. ⁣ ⁣ Probiotics help you in a variety of ways:⁣ *Break down and digest food⁣ *Support overall gut health⁣ *Help support the immune system ⁣ *Play a role in how you think and feel by improving the production and regulation of hormones, such as insulin and leptin.⁣ ⁣ Prebiotics: the food for the good bacteria. ⁣ *They come from the non-digestible fiber in certain plant-based foods. ⁣ *With names such as oligosaccharides, galactooligosaccharide, and inulin, they stimulate the growth and activity of your body’s beneficial bacteria (probiotics). ⁣ *All prebiotics are fiber, but not all fiber is prebiotic.⁣ ⁣ You need both probiotics and prebiotic – it’s a synergistic relationship. They work together to support your microbiome — the community of trillions of bacteria in your body that help it function properly.⁣ ⁣ Without prebiotics as fuel, probiotics would starve — leaving you open to a host of problems, such as leaky gut, a compromised immune system, and constipation. And with no probiotics around to eat them, prebiotics would be of little value to your gut.⁣ ⁣ #foodrevolutionnetwork #probiotics #prebiotics #gut #healthygut⁣

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Number of microbial species

Your probiotic supplement may contain a single bacterial species (e.g., Bifidobacterium animalis) or several genera in a single tablet (e.g., Bifidobacterium animalis and different species of Lactobacillus). Paradoxically, some studies have shown that using a single bacterium to be the most effective strategy. However benefits have been seen in both mixtures and isolated strains.

Probiotics containing different bacterial species are considered better at preventing infections; but if a specific effect is desired, it is advisable to look for more specific strains. For example, the use of Bifidobacterium animalis to treat obesity will be more effective than taking a multi-species probiotic.

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Did you know that bacteria compete with each other for the same substrate (oxygen and food)? If a probiotic is made up of several microorganisms, it is crucial that they are able to cooperate with each other. Otherwise, the supplement will lose effectiveness.

Packaging

Probiotics are very delicate supplements. Therefore, it is crucial that you carefully examine the packaging of your item prior to purchase. Discard any damaged container; if air or light seeps into the container, microorganisms may die or become weakened.

Quantity of CFU

Your product should contain a sufficient number of probiotic bacteria (measured in Colony Forming Units, CFU). Bearing in mind that a part of the microorganisms die during packaging and ingestion, it will be necessary to use a high amount of CFU (about 10-15 billion) to ensure its effectiveness.

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Value for your money

Normally these items have containers with thirty or more capsules. If we take into account that results appear approximately after one month of use, it may be a good idea to purchase your supplement in bulk quantities, to assure you are able to continuously and consistently provide it to your body.

Summary

Introducing a probiotic supplement into your diet will help improve your quality of life in many more ways than one. These microorganisms will strengthen your defenses and relieve your gastrointestinal discomfort. If you take care of the outside of your body through exercise and cosmetics, why not add a probiotic to your routine and reinforce your health and well-being from the inside out?

Keep in mind that these products have much stricter handling requirements when compared to other supplements, such as simple vitamins or minerals. Nonetheless, their benefits are among the highest of any supplement. Don’t hesitate! Take advantage of the healing powers offered by probiotics starting now!

We hope you found this article on probiotics helpful. We’d love to read your comments. And if you liked it, share it!

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